Léon-Gontran Damas’s Lyric Masterpiece,. Black-Label rebelliousness of Damas’s Pigments had been mainly personal and ahistorical. In London: croom. the Négraille’s Testament: Translating Black-Label (Léon-Gontran Damas), open access at ULg individual poems (unlike Pigments, Névralgies, Graffiti) but one long poem in four movements, without titles. Here .. London: Lexington Books. This essay links Léon-Gontran Damas’ poetry to Matthias subversive collection, the polemical Pigments .. New York, London: A. A. Knopf.

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Damas remained at that prestigious institution and was Professor of African Literature at Howard University at the time of his death.

gonfran In the third movement, the speaker is the addressee, the Other has turned out to be his female? In the following stanza, the monosyllabic drunken repetitions leading back to the first line are: The answer lies in the shape of the quatrain on the page: The poetical subject testifies to an incurable displacement and therefore dislocation of the self.

Damas, Léon – Postcolonial Studies

This chapter discusses the text in relation to the English translation we have produced. Indeterminacy is further present in the erasure of clearly transparent identities of the characters involved.

Smith, Fall Last edited: So, an important feature in the poem, which has to be taken into account in the translating process, is this overwhelming sense of uncertainty and blurring of boundaries between past and present, here and there, reality and imagination ; even the colour line is crossed in interracial love that seems to be more imagined than actually lived.


Indeed, his memories of childhood are marked by resentment against the hypocrisy of the middle-class family in which he grew up and the education he received.

Just after the passage in the first movement when he imagines going back to his uncle, the first two lines of a litany in a stanza detailing his distress read: An Anthology of Translations from the French. Peau noire, masques blancs. Glissant, Edouard November 4, The Practice of Diaspora: In fact, a clear picture or sequence never quite forms, as Damas makes the point that the condition of displaced exile is incompatible with sharp-edged definitions.

Paris is synonymous with exile, i.

This individual experience ties in with the collective burden of his country as a French colony associated with the Pihments Passage, with slavery and colonialism, and used for centuries as an overseas prison. However, the translation also provides notes and a glossary that should facilitate access. Transgressing normative French and parodying sophistication in the use of vocabulary gontraan grammar as illustrated by L.

The importance of sounds sometimes results in our changing words.

Damas, Léon

It is indeed in his body that the poet experiences the deep-lying roots of racism and discrimination. Damas served briefly in the French Army in the Second World War, and like his comrades Cesaire and Senghor, he also held political office.

Amsterdam and New York: Overshadowed in most essays and anthologies devoted to the movement by his Senegalese and Martinican fellow writers,5 Damas deserves renewed academic and public attention,6 especially since some critics have misunderstood his work. Damas was the first of the 3 founders of the Negritude to publish his own book of poems.


Using an appropriate rhythm is important all through the poem, and particularly with the four lines that open and close the work, recurring as a chorus throughout the four movements.

Léon Damas

Batchelor, SFPS 4, Three verbal idioms with the same patterns had to be used in English so as to retain the crispness of the rhythm: He does not belong anywhere. The Spirit of Resistance.

In order to restore some balance in the sense of departure from an expected use of language, we have relied on the possibility of turning nouns into verbs in cases where this is rarely done in English. While the second and third phrases are semantically close to the original, the image in the first is markedly different. In fact, one of the most striking features in the poem is its use of reiterative patterns. Research in African Literatures Remember me on this computer.